The Liberating Feeling of Dropping TV Shows

by Matthew Thompson

The last decade has seen more and more cable networks launching their own TV series. It has seen places like Netflix and Amazon producing original content and providing an easy way to catch up on classic series we’ve never seen. All the while DVRs and OnDemand services made it possible to save stuff we missed live for viewing later. As a TV junkie, I have done my best to keep up with all the shows I could, sampling new ones liberally and seeking out hidden gems that had initially slipped by me. Over the years, the amount of shows I watch has piled higher and higher… and this year I finally reached my breaking point.

This was at least partially brought about by other factors. Uncharted 4 came out in May. For those that don’t follow the gaming side of my site, I had never been as excited for a video game release as I was for this one and I ended up obsessing over it for the better part of two months. I changed my workout frequency this summer too. Both ate into time I would have normally spent catching up on the many shows I had fallen behind on by the time network season ended in May. Sometime in July, my DVR hit its limit and I was faced with a decision: start watching some of these shows I had saved in a hurry or delete them for ones I cared more about that needed recording in the Summer. I chose to start deleting. What seemed like a tough decision was ultimately liberating. And this was just the start.

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What greets me at the top of my app’s newly leaner “To Watch” list right now is lovely.

From here, I decided to re-evaluate what I was watching. I have this app that tracks all the shows I watch even stuff that I keep up with on Netflix or OnDemand that wouldn’t necessarily be on my DVR. Looking through it I found some more shows to call it quits on. Some I tried out and never really thought much of like Quantico (pictured at the top of this post). These were easy to get rid of. Others were shows I once liked quite a bit, but had since tailed off in quality. I found myself continuing with them out of pure inertia more than because I actually enjoyed them at this point. Some of these like Homeland and Sleepy Hollow got the axe too, while others I couldn’t quite cut – with one season of The Vampire Diaries left, I’m determined to see it through despite what a bore it has become.

Dropping all these shows isn’t something I’m doing because I want to watch less TV per se. I just want to make sure I’m watching stuff that is actually worth my time. These recent cuts have actually made room for me to try out some new (to me) series. Before I would open my app and see all these shows I was behind on and it would make me less likely to add another one to the pile. But now I feel better about it. I had started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last summer. I’ve been able to return to that and I’m even going to work Angel in alongside it now that I’ve reached the point where they run concurrently. I’ve been wanting to try Halt and Catch Fire because of the buzz the second season received last year and I am working through the first season now. I’ve been exploring some of the original shows Amazon Instant Video has to offer like Catastrophe. I’ve even decided to work my way through one of my old favorites, Veronica Mars, again.

I realize this may seem silly to some. Sticking with mediocre (or worse!) television shows is hopefully an idea that is alien to most of you. I guess I’m always thinking things could get better. But it isn’t 1996 anymore. I’m not beholden to what I catch when it airs or I taped on the VCR. If these shows improve or I want to return to them for any other reason, I can always track them down on one streaming service or another with relative ease. For the time being though, I’m watching only stuff I actually like and it feels pretty great. Hopefully I can keep this going into the new Fall season.

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6 comments on “The Liberating Feeling of Dropping TV Shows

  1. This summer was dead for new shows. I miss the good summer shows like True Blood. There was a time when some of my favorite stuff came out in the summer. It’s been dead. But the fact that by the end of this month I will have a full plate (bursting at the seams) isn’t exactly a good thing. It takes a lot for me to abandon something. I left Sleepy Hollow but I gave them a lot of chances to re-find the magic. Binge Watching is better than week to week to me but I don’t like waiting for a whole year. I’m re-watching Shannara on Netflix. It’s easier to follow binged. I really like that show. Catastrophe is one of the funniest shows on in my opinion. It makes me laugh so hard I damn near hurt myself. Homeland is losing it and it is a bit racist but I loved it for a few years and I hope it gets back to the good. Quantico jumped the shark in the first season. It became hard to follow. But I’m gonna give it a chance. I could use that app. Is it a TV Guide app? I called my Cable company and asked them for a higher capacity DVR. It doesn’t have picture in picture (which sucks when there’s two games on at the same time) but it has ten times the capacity of the last one. I have yet to get to 50%. Loved Angel more than Buffy toward the end. It starts off slow but once they re-tool it. They do a massive re-tool after season one so it gets a lot better. And then Amy Acker shows up and it gets even better than Buffy. Have you ever watched Gossip Girl? I’ve never seen it but I’m looking for something to binge alongside Supernatural. I started the first season of Supernatural but soon discovered that it is not a good binge. It’s dark and it stays dark. After three in a row I’m looking for the sun and some color. I was hoping Gossip Girl would be a good palette pairing.

    • I used an app called TVShow Time on my iPhone. Not sure what kind of phone you have but there are a bunch on whatever app store you have I am sure. Try searching for TV tracker or episode tracker or something like that. There may be a better one than the one I use, but I’ve been using it for a while, so I’m comfortable with it I guess. Plus it was free! I honestly enjoy the feeling of checking off episodes I watch. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something even if it isn’t all that important… haha.

      My friend who kind of inspired me to watch Buffy was saying the same thing about Amy Acker’s role on Angel. I’m excited to see her on there. I loved her on Person of Interest.

      I actually have watched some Gossip Girl. I was a huge fan of The OC (and still am!). Gossip Girl was The OC’s showrunner’s show after that, so I gave it a try. I thought it was okay for a season, but after that it felt like work. I think I made it through 2.5 seasons before quitting. I probably only made it that far because Blake Lively was so damn hot! So I can’t say I’d recommend it, but obviously your mileage may vary.

      Always appreciate the thoughtful comments Mel!

  2. I know what you mean. Right now I’m pretty picky about the shows I watch, but there was a time when I was watching tons of shows, and also digging into sci-fi shows that were sometimes just really bad. It’s always sad when a show you initially like goes downhill though. You’re right though — you can always pick it up again if it improves! Actually, I used to love The Walking Dead, but a few seasons in (season three or four??) I stopped watching it. I wasn’t into the Governor melodrama. But last season I got into it again!

    • I aspire to be pickier about my shows… haha. At least you get what I mean. The Walking Dead is a show that really swings in quality pretty often. Me and my brother get together to watch it, so that has kept me going on it even though some seasons we’d just be complaining about it. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I’m very overwhelmed by the amount of shows out there now. It’s great we have a ton of options, but sometimes I think it’s too much. I really have to pick and choose what’s worth watching, especially if enough people say a show is a can’t miss. I’m with you on The Vampire Diaries. I would have dropped that show ages ago, but now that it’s having a final season, I do want to see how it ends. I doubt it’ll be satisfying and maybe we wasted our time sticking with a show that has gotten bad and stale as time wore on, but I guess a part of me still has a soft spot for these characters…back when the show was actually pretty good.

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